Ed Jones, formerly of Bradford Cathedral and now at Worcester, is the tenth organist to play in this season of Wednesday@One organ recitals. We spoke to him about his upcoming organ recital to find out what we can expect from his programme as well as finding out more about his career.
So what have you been up to since you left Bradford Cathedral?
I’ve started a new post at Worcester. I’m the sub-assistant organist and my main duties are that I direct the voluntary choir of boys and adults, and the principal accompanist of the Cathedral Choir when the girls are singing. But because it’s just a part-time job I can also fill my time up with other bits and pieces, which keeps it fun!
How are things at Worcester Cathedral?
They’re going very well – all the music is really fun to be involved with. I knew the Director of Music from a previous post so I get on really well with him and it’s a joy to work with everyone else.
Your biography says that you’re acting as the Chief Worcester Sauce taster. Have you received many accolades for that?
Well that’s necessarily true…! I usually put some amusing things in my biogs. I have no formal post with them unfortunately!
Could you give us a brief introduction to yourself?
I came into cathedral music because I heard a counter-tenor sing. If you see a cat on the street and it barks, it’s not what you expect. It was the same for me hearing a counter-tenor for the first time! I then started singing alongside him at the cathedral. It was then a Priest who phoned me up and asked if I wanted to play the organ at a local parish church, during my time at University.
For you, what makes a great lunchtime organ recital?
It’s tricky. I try and have something interesting for a lot of people, so I’ll have something spiky, something that has a nice flowing melody, and something that people will latch onto or might well know. Also something interested that the organ enthusiasts will have to talk about, but something that people who don’t know anything about organ music will still enjoy for forty-five minutes.
How did you pick the pieces for your recital?
I picked Jackson’s Diversion for Mixtures because the mixtures sound absolutely fabulous on the organ here, so I thought I’d learn it for that very purpose. The choir were singing some Jackson that day so it fitted well.
MacMillan’s St Andrew’s Suite is a piece I bought years and years ago for the middle movement as it’s very slow and very beautiful, and I later thought I should learn the rest of it to keep hold of my Scottish heritage. I was actually in St. Andrews when it was premiered.
Hindemith’s Sonata no. 2 is a strange one. Hindemith wrote a sonata for every single instrument as he thought it would be a good compositional tool. He’s a very intelligent man, writing for all these instruments, so it’s quite a challenge playing it. He enjoyed the organ so much he wrote a further two sonatas for the instrument! I played the first one quite a bit so now I’m learning the second one.
Alain’s Litanies is a piece that I heard and thought, ‘I must learn that’, then I didn’t learn it as it’s quite tricky – then a year later I’d hear it again and so on – and this happened to me about five times and I realized I had to learn it, so I bought the music and put it down on the music list and, of course, once it’s printed you have to play it!
It’s a phenomenal piece, but he was a French organist who died in the war at only 29-years-old. His music is so wonderful and I often wonder, had he lived on, what he would have gone onto write.
What are your plans for the rest of 2020?
There are lots of projects going on in Worcester. The current challenge I have this week is to complete a 4×4 Rubik’s cube! I’ll just see what the rest of the year brings.
Finally, going back to your entirely serious biography: your hobbies are distance running, Guyanese wood-carving, and curry and beer – but which is the best?
The one I look forward to most on my Bradford trips is the curry! Worcester has a really good selection of Thai curries but not much in the way of Indian curries. Wherever you go there is good beer; wherever you go you can go for long runs, and wherever you go you can carve, but the curry is something I definitely miss from Bradford!
Join us for our weekly Wednesday@One Organ Recitals at 1pm, with a lunch buffet available from 12:30pm. Ed Jones will be playing on Wednesday 18th March 2020. More information on this recital, all others and this season’s coffee concerts can be found in the programme available to buy from the recitals and concerts.